Written by Anthony Moujaes
A vision of a just world for all people will guide and shape the future work of the United Church of Christ. It's a vision that the denomination's General Minister and President and unified Board of Directors are prepared to own as part of a refreshed set of Purpose, Vision and Mission statements.
"I can't even begin to express how proud I am of our beloved United Church of Christ for articulating not just a purpose, vision and mission — but this purpose, vision and mission," said the Rev. John Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president.
The UCC purpose statement comes from the Gospel of Matthew: To love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves.
The vision: United in Christ's love, a just world for all.
And the Mission statement: United in Spirit and inspired by God's grace, we welcome all, love all, and seek justice for all.
"Every week I travel the globe witnessing what it looks like when the United Church of Christ commits itself to love and justice," Dorhauer said. "I call upon every covenant partner to embrace fully this call to love and justice; and to share with leaders in the church what that expression of love looks like in their ministry setting."
The Rev. Sue Artt, conference minister of the Rocky Mountain Conference UCC and moderator of General Synod 2017, believes the statements resonate with the hearts of progressive Christians and offer a renewed sense of unity to the church. "As spiritual beings created by God to be God's hands in the world, hearing this purpose, visioning mission really articulates our sense of calling as God's servants," Artt said. "It's a deeply satisfying way in which we are called into action."
To craft these statements, the national setting has brought together dialogue partners from the UCC board, national staff, the UCC Historical Council, the Council of Conference Ministers, and youth representatives over the last year, and included survey results from thousands of voices across the life of the denomination. What emerged was a clear focus on the love of God and love of neighbors.
"That love in action envisions a just world for all," Dorhauer said.
Board members overwhelmingly affirmed the statements during their fall business meeting from Oct. 20-22. Said board member Kevin Peterson, "I really appreciate that there is no insider language, and no acronyms. It says a lot to the outside church because it communicates to the wider church. It has God and spirit language that specifically identifies us as Christians."
Pacific Northwest Conference (PNC) Minister the Rev. Mike Denton was enthusiastic about the statements: "I'm considering bringing these to PNC to adopt as their own," he said. "This matches up with much of what we've been discussing, and adopting these would give us the opportunity for a unique sort of alignment. It might be worth more conversation to see if others want to do the same in other settings. I think this could be a way to display heathy covenant and healthy autonomy."
"I liked the way that — in just five words — our vision conveys what we believe so succinctly," said Board member the Rev. Kevin Omi. "I can talk about it in an inclusive manner because the language is inclusive of everyone."
Dorhauer named the Purpose, Vision and Mission statements as one of the most significant pieces of work to date in his call as general minister and president.
"We all bear responsibility for living out our shared mission. We will not achieve our full potential — nor maintain our full capacity for health, vitality, and relevance — without a clear sense of missional purpose and calling. This effort to identify that was a critical step in the direction of our future health and vitality — but it will only matter if we can all find common cause in this and commit fully, with passion, and without reserve to its undertaking."
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